The Legality of Gambling in Canada

The legal status of online betting varies from country to country. As of 2024, only sports betting, poker, and horse racing bets are legal in France. Meanwhile, in the UK, all forms of online gambling are allowed. In Canada, even though online casino activities seem less regulated, the situation is more complicated than it appears. Here’s an overview of Canada’s laws governing online gambling by province.

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    Gambling Laws and Regulations in Canada

    Historical Context

    The first gambling legislation in Canada dates back to the 19th century. The “Canadian Criminal Code,” enacted in 1892, was the first document to address the legal status of gambling activities. It stipulated that all forms of betting were illegal, with penalties ranging from a few months to two years of imprisonment. However, the situation changed significantly in the 20th century as the Canadian government recognised the financial benefits of the gambling sector.

    Key Developments

    • Early 1900s: Raffles and bingo for charitable purposes were authorised.
    • 1920s: Horse racing betting was legalised.
    • 1960s-1970s: Federal and provincial lotteries were authorised, and the first land-based casinos emerged, boosting the popularity of slot machines.
    • 1985: Slot machines were legalised, paving the way for the proliferation of land-based casinos.
    • Late 21st Century: Technological advancements led to the rise of online gambling. However, while playing is not technically prohibited, operating an online casino from Canadian soil without a proper license is prohibited.

    Updating the Canadian Criminal Code

    The Canadian Criminal Code comprises laws addressing the legal status of activities within the country. Part VII generally prohibits gambling, but Article 207 allows lotteries to be organised and operated by charitable institutions, accredited religious organisations, or any province by its laws. Unlike in France or Switzerland, where online gambling is state-controlled through a single entity, Canada exhibits a degree of liberalism.
    Provincial governments can organise and control lotteries and gambling activities offered on websites in their regions. However, these platforms must be operated by the same authorities. Since each Canadian province regulates gambling activities differently, the gambling laws vary from one region to another. Therefore, it is essential to understand your province’s gambling laws before considering online betting.

    Provincial Gaming Regulations in Canada

    gaming regulations in canada


    Ontario is one of the regions with lenient gambling laws. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is officially accredited to offer betting activities and has launched an online casino, PlayOLG, offering various games. Other online casinos in Ontario are managed by brands based outside the region but are licensed. It is legal to play on these sites, which offer bonuses and promotions to their members. The minimum age for gambling in Ontario is 19.

    British Columbia

    The British Columbia Lottery Commission (BCLC) regulates the online gambling sector in British Columbia. is the only legally recognized online casino in the province, but no law prohibits foreign platforms. Therefore, players can access accredited virtual establishments whose operators are not physically present in Canada. The minimum age for gambling in British Columbia is 19.


    In Quebec, both physical and online gambling are legal from the age of 18. Loto-Québec, the Espacejeux and Mise-O-Jeu site owner, is authorised to offer betting services. In 2016, a law was passed requiring Internet service providers to block access to unauthorised gambling platforms, but it was deemed unconstitutional in 2018. This allows Quebecers to access private gaming sites freely.

    Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotia has not defined laws regarding international online gambling, making it legal to gamble on foreign licensed platforms. However, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation authorised the recommended online casinos. The minimum age for gambling in Nova Scotia is 19.

    New Brunswick

    There are no online casinos in New Brunswick, but the Atlantic Lottery Corporation allows sports betting on the Proline-Stadium platform. Offshore casino games are not regulated, allowing residents to try their luck on these platforms. The minimum age for gambling in New Brunswick is 19.


    Saskatchewan authorities launched Sask Lotteries, the region’s first recognised legal gaming site, and allowed the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) to operate gaming and lottery activities. Betting on sites registered outside Canada is not technically prohibited. The minimum age for gambling in Saskatchewan is 19.


    The Kahnawake Gaming Commission regulates land-based and online casino games in the Kahnawake territory. Since 1999, it has licensed casino operators, explaining the long list of casinos, poker rooms, and sports betting sites under its jurisdiction.

    Other Regions

    • Alberta: The Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) regulates online gambling. The legal platforms Play Alberta and WCLC offer gambling games in the province.
    • Manitoba: The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation regulates activities, and players can access the platform and sites managed by WCLC.
    • Prince Edward Island: Online gambling is legal on any platform owned by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

    Criteria for the Legality of Online Gambling Sites in Canada

    Online gambling sites not listed by the competent provincial bodies are classified as illegal. The same applies to foreign websites. To verify the legality of a virtual platform, you should refer to several criteria, with possessing a valid license at the top of the list.

    Importance of a Licensed Online Gambling Site

    Choosing a licensed online gambling site is important for many reasons. Firstly, it is accredited and subject to rigorous oversight, meaning it must meet extremely strict standards regarding security and fairness. Licensed sites pay particular attention to the quality of service and customer satisfaction.

    Conditions for Obtaining an Operating License

    To offer specific services in Ontario, online gambling operators must obtain a license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The conditions for obtaining this license are:

    • A solid reputation and experience in the gambling sector.
    • Sufficient financial capacity to ensure the sustainability of operations.
    • Implementation of player protection measures and responsible gambling practices.
    • Compliance with security and anti-fraud standards.

    Different Types of Legal Gambling

    types of legal gambling

    Online Casinos

    Online casinos are a significant attraction in the Ontario market. They offer a range of games, from traditional slot machines to table games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, as well as live games with real dealers.

    Sports Betting

    Sports betting is growing in Ontario, with major sports like hockey, football, basketball, and baseball being particularly popular. Operators offer betting on competitions, leagues, and events with attractive odds and live betting options.

    Online Poker

    The online poker scene is thriving, with regular tournaments and cash game tables catering to players of all skill levels and budgets.


    Operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), the lottery remains a cornerstone of the gambling market, offering draw games, scratch cards, and sports betting with substantial jackpots.
    Understanding the legal landscape of gambling in Canada and the specific regulations in each province can help players enjoy a safer and more regulated gambling environment.

    Brian Morin Casino Reviewer, Content Editor
    Brian works in iGaming since 2018 reviewing online casinos, writing guides, and trying new games and strategies. His rich experience in gambling helps the Casinosters team provide you with honest reviews, profitable bonuses, and rewards. Brian is a big fan of video slots and traditional casino card games.
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